Why You Need a BBQ Knife Set And How to Find The Best One
Everybody loves barbecues, and being prepared for any culinary challenge should be a priority for every pitmaster. Here’s our low-down on what you need in any BBQ knife set, and how to find them.
- Why You Need a BBQ Knife Set
- What’s in a BBQ Knife Set?
- What to Look for in a BBQ Knife Set
- Best Knives For Your BBQ
- Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why You Need a BBQ Knife Set
Everybody loves a BBQ. Not only is it an awesome way to make food (resulting in some of the most mouth-watering meals we’ve collectively come up with as a species), it’s also a fun way to spend a day with family, friends, and general well-wishers. It’s built into our DNA that dining is a social activity, so it makes sense that we’ve built this ritual around the feast of flavors that is barbecue.
And if you’re having a backyard cookout, it’s important to be properly prepared. To have every tool you need for any challenge that might arise through the course of the day. A BBQ knife set, with top-of-the-line kitchen knives, is a fantastic way to communicate to your guests “I’m taking this seriously because I want to provide you with a great experience.”
The thing is, there’s no such thing as a “BBQ knife”; a BBQ knife set is a knife set composed of various types of knives to fulfill the needs that might come up at a BBQ. You’ll be hard-pressed to find many “BBQ knife block sets” ready to go. So a BBQ knife set is up to you to assemble.
2. What’s in a BBQ Knife Set?
The short answer here is that a BBQ knife set should comprise anything that you might need during a BBQ. Does that sound a little vague? It’s supposed to! At barbecues you might come upon a wide array of culinary challenges, from deboning a piece of meat to chopping up herbs – so there’s no one answer to what should be included in your BBQ set. It’s all going to depend on what you’re cooking.
That said, as a rule of thumb, it’s always useful to have:
- Chef’s knife
- Slicing and carving knife (also known as “brisket knife”)
- Meat cleaver
- Boning knife
- Paring knife
Some additional nice-to-haves are:
And, of course, some nice steak knives to dig into the meat once it’s ready.
And hey, if you’re manning the grill at somebody else’s home, a knife roll is a fantastic way to transport these BBQ knives. In addition to a knife roll, a nice cooking apron is a bit like your culinary battle armor.
Ultimately, the best BBQ knife set is the one you have on hand, so let’s talk about how you can be as prepared as possible and assemble the best BBQ knife set.
3. What to Look for in a BBQ Knife Set
Knowing where to start building your BBQ knife set might be a little overwhelming, so we’ve put together a quick checklist of stuff to look out for when it comes to shopping for knives. These are all things to consider when you’re looking through knives for your barbecue, but a lot of it will come down to your own needs and preferences. You’ll see what we mean.
If you’re going to be putting this knife set to heavy use (and if you’ll be preparing the meat and/or manning the pit at a BBQ cookout you likely will) your knives must be made of durable, high-quality material. This can be a little intimidating at first. Am I expected to learn about different kinds of steel? It’s much easier than you think.
When looking for quality bbq knives, you’ll most commonly find stainless steel knives. The reason stainless steel is a popular option is that it sharpens very easily and is pretty easy to look after. Low maintenance knives are a real-time saver, as you won’t have to sharpen them that often or worry that they might break or wear out.
There’s also carbon steel, a metal alloy of carbon and steel. The role of the carbon here is to make sure the steel is stronger and more durable; it’ll hold its sharp edge for much longer. The problem with carbon steel knives is they are prone to rust, so they do take a little more effort to look after than knives made of other types of steel. Carbon steel is a great choice for a boning knife, for instance.
Damascus steel is another high-quality option. It’s among the very best you’ll find for your BBQ knife set. This is because it combines the hardness of carbon steel with the flexibility of stainless steel. It’s made of a carbon core and a stainless steel exterior, so you’re getting the best of both worlds. If you see Damascus steel knives, you might also be taken aback by their prices; they tend to be pretty pricey.
When it comes to a BBQ knife set, you’re going to be needing different knife sizes for different tasks. For instance, your slicing knife will probably be pretty large, as the long blade is usually used to easily slice into a large cut of meat. A slicing knife can get up to the 12-14” range, which is pretty big. Meanwhile, chef’s knives tend to hover around 6 to 9 inches, most commonly falling in the 8” size.
There are also smaller knives that would be part of any good BBQ knife set. A solid BBQ knife set will include a paring knife, for instance. These are good for small, intricate cuts. As such, they are usually in the 2.5” to 4” range.
What it all comes down to is having a balance in your knife set between different sizes and different types of knives to fulfill any need you have when you’re out there working the barbecue station.
Weight and balance
Depending on the task you’re using your knife for, you’re going to need it to be a little heavier or a little lighter. And since our mission here is to build a well-balanced list of various types of kitchen knives to make sure you’re fully covered when you’re having a barbecue, that means you’ll also have a variety when it comes to the weight of your knives.
Let’s get this out of the way: if your knife feels extremely light and airy to the point that it’s flimsy, you’re probably looking at a low-quality knife with materials that are not up to par.
Even a naturally light knife, such as a Japanese style vegetable knife, should have at least a little bit of weight to it due to the quality of the materials. But if you’re holding a piece of cutlery that feels like a disposable piece of plastic, it’s a good sign you’re not dealing with the best BBQ tool
As far as balance: this term refers to the weight distribution of the blade. A well-balanced knife should feel natural to hold, without the weight tilting towards one of the sides. As inconsequential as this might sound, this is an extremely important factor due to comfort and safety. A knife that is not properly balanced will be hard to use, and you’ll find that you grow tired of using it quite quickly.
Grip comfort goes hand-in-hand with safety. When it comes to manning a BBQ, you’ll likely be out there for several hours. That means that you’ll be interacting directly with your cooking tools for a long time. So your BBQ knives need to feel comfortable in your hands because you’ll be working with them directly for prolonged periods. Holding your knife should feel good.
The very best knife manufacturers put as much effort on the handle as they do on the blade itself. This makes sense, as the handle is the part of the knife you’ll come in direct contact with. An ergonomic handle design, made of high-quality material, is extremely important.
Holding it shouldn’t feel strenuous, but instead like a natural extension of your body. Remember: a comfortable knife is also a safer knife, as you’ll tire of it less quickly and be less likely to have an accident in the kitchen.
As much as the earlier points are the most important, there’s no denying the fact that visual design is an important part of any kitchen knife selection process. You want a knife that doesn’t just work great, it should look great too.
This holds true of knives as it does of any piece of kitchen equipment, even a cutting board. You want it to say something about who you are, about your aesthetic, communicating your personality visually.
And yes, performance is indeed more important, but don’t kid yourself thinking that appearance is a complete non-factor. A knife manufacturer that puts a lot of thought into the design of their knives is also likely to be more careful in the overall creation of their cutlery, resulting in a higher quality product altogether. So an attractive knife design may very well be a sign of the overall quality of the product.
Look for knives with distinctive blade patterns, or with nice-looking handles.
Ultimately, the best BBQ knife is one you’re proud to own. Design plays a part in that.
4. Best Knives For Your BBQ
Now that you have a sense of the different criteria you should be keeping in mind when it comes to finding knives for your best BBQ knife set, let’s take a look at some of the best knives out there. Some of these you’ll want to be adding to your collection, and they’ll be great for your knife set.
Best chef’s knives
As far as your all-purpose kitchen knife, a chef’s knife is one of the essential elements because it can serve as a one-size-fits-all solution for many cooking challenges. Every knife set should have one. It is, to some people, the only kitchen knife they will ever need. I find myself using my chef’s knife every single day, and as such it’s important to pick one that can indeed handle the pressure of being a daily go-to kitchen implement.
Check out the gorgeous chef’s knife from Dalstrong’s Delta Wolf series, named after the elite Special Operations Force of the same name. This 10” chef’s knife is an absolute stunner, made of high-carbon stainless steel hand-sharpened to 8-12 degrees and with an onyx-black titanium nitride coating which not only reduces friction and serves as an anti-corrosive shield, it also looks awesome.
- Features an incredible camouflage G10 handle that feels extremely comfortable thanks to its ergonomic design and is also extremely stylish.
- Non-reflective titanium nitride coating adds to the overall menacing look of this gorgeous knife.
- Made of precision forged, ultra-sharp, wear-resistant, high-carbon 9CR18MOV steel at 60° Rockwell Hardness.
- An easy knife to clean and look after.
- At 10 inches, this knife is a little larger than most chef’s knives (which usually hover around the 7-8 inch range). Ask yourself if you need a chef’s knife this big before purchasing.
- This chef’s knife is a statement piece. If you’re looking for something a little lower-profile, look into some of the other knives on this list.
Here’s another 10” chef’s knife, though this one is from Dalstrong’s Gladiator series. You can tell by the timeless beauty of it; it features an elegant look that projects class as well as high-quality design. And, of course, its performance is top-of-the-line.
- Carefully designed for maximum comfort and maneuverability, with a beautiful and ergonomic ambidextrous ABS polymer handle.
- Knife blade is made of precision forged, ultra sharp, wear-resistant, single-piece, high carbon German ThyssenKrupp Steel coming in at 56+ Rockwell Hardness.
- Its tall blade height provides knuckle clearance, which makes it a safer knife in addition to being easier and more comfortable to use.
- Full tang, resulting in a robust, high-quality knife.
- This knife carries some heft to it, which might take a little bit of getting used to at first but you’ll get the hang of it.
- Once again, this is a 10” chef's knife, which is longer than many home cooks need.
This 7” chef knife from Dalstrong’s signature Shogun series is one of the very best knives you will ever buy. At 7 inches, it’s more nimble and maneuverable than its larger peers, and also more narrow than its larger counterpart. This makes it a highly versatile, powerful multi-purpose kitchen tool that will aid you in sailing through any culinary challenge.
- AUS-10V Japanese super steel core. 67 layered Damascus, sharpened under the ancient 3-step Honbazuke method.
- This chef knife features a tapered bolster which provides a “zero-balance” grip, with the weight of the knife evenly distributed along both sides. This is an extremely comfortable knife to hold.
- Its cladding is resistant to rust and corrosion, so your knife will stay cleaner for longer.
- Absolutely gorgeous knife, featuring the Shogun Series Tsunami Rose blade pattern.
- Amazing edge retention, at 62+ Rockwell Hardness.
- If you’re not a fan of flashy-looking knives, this showstopper of a kitchen tool might not be for you.
- The curvature of this knife makes it perfect for cutting with a rocking motion, but it might take a little bit of getting used to at first.
Best butcher knives
A great butcher knife will help you break your meat down in preparation for your BBQ as well as aid in serving it once it’s out of the grill. Here are our picks for some of the best butcher knives in the market.
This 10” butcher knife from Dalstrong’s cooler-than-cool Shadow Black series is a powerful piece of kitchen gadgetry featuring a menacing design. Not only is it engineered to expertly butcher meat, but it also looks like something straight out of the set of a sci-fi movie.
- Precision forged, ultra sharp, wear-resistant high carbon vacuum treated steel at 58 Rockwell Hardness, painstakingly sharpened to 16-18 degrees per side.
- Features an awesome black, non-reflective titanium nitride coating for extra corrosion resistance and increased non-stick properties. It also looks cool as heck.
- Incredible ergonomic handle design, made of fiber-resin military-grade G10.
- Added chromium for increased stain resistance.
- Not everyone’s a fan of the all-black look. I love it, but there’s no accounting for taste.
- The titanium nitride coating might make sharpening feel a little awkward at first, but it’s the kind of thing you get over pretty quickly. You should have no problem sharpening this blade when you need to.
Whenever you need to section off and portion even the largest cut of meat, this extra-long butcher and breaking knife is exactly what you need. It’ll glide effortlessly through large meats such as moose, elk, and deer, as well as smaller cuts of beef, pork, poultry, and fish. Truly an all-around tool for the meat enthusiast.
- Expertly slice through flesh, breakthrough cartilage, and trim the fat with this ultra-sharp wear-resistant high carbon German ThyssenKrupp steel blade.
- The blade edge is painstakingly hand-sharpened to 16-18 degrees per side, which helps achieve the perfect balance between sharpness and resilience.
- Its polished handle spine helps maintain a comfortable pinch grip.
- Timeless, elegant look.
- This is a large knife. 14 inches makes it great for cutting down large pieces of meat, but its size does make it less manageable. Ask yourself if you need a butcher knife this large.
- The handle is very smooth, and some home cooks might prefer a handle with a bit of texture.
An absolute meat handling powerhouse, this 10” butcher and breaking knife is more than worth its price with its state-of-the-art engineering and high-quality blade. Carve through flesh, cartilage, sinew, and fat at high speeds with this awesome knife from the Quantum 1 series.
- Made of extremely durable American BD1N-X steel, with an added vacuum heat seal treatment.
- Features the truly awesome “Nova Prime” blade pattern which doesn’t just look great, it also reduces drag and increases knife efficiency.
- Fiber-resin military-grade G10 and carbon fiber hybrid handle, nearly impervious to heat, cold, and moisture.
- Beautiful hand-polished satin finish blade.
- The price of this premium tool is toward the upper end of the range represented in this list, but you certainly get what you pay for.
- I’ve heard some folks say this knife looks “too nice” and it makes them feel hesitant to put it to work at tough jobs. That’s a bit of a barrier you have to work through as you realize this great knife can handle the toughest jobs you can throw at it.
Best slicing and carving knives
A slicing knife or carving knife is an essential element to any barbecue, as the process of serving up juicy slices of BBQ brisket is as much part of the experience as anything else. Carving into a large cut of meat to serve to your hungry guests has never felt as effortless or as fun.
The Dalstrong Crusader series is one of the very best collections of knives out there, featuring a series of all-steel kitchen tools with unparalleled performance and stunning, simplistic beauty. This 9” slicing knife & fork set is an incredible way to easily and elegantly portion out whatever cut of meat you’re serving.
- Gorgeous knife design, featuring a clean, unobtrusive look that appeals to fans of minimalism. Less is more.
- Precision-forged, ultra-sharp, wear-resistant single-piece high carbon ThyssenKrupp German stainless steel.
- Extremely hygienic design, with a smooth transition from knife to handle leaving nowhere for debris to go.
- Full tang for added strength and robustness.
- If you’re not a fan of the minimalistic look and prefer something a little flashier, consider some of the other knives in this list.
- Because of its hollow handle design, this knife might be a little lighter than some of the other slicers presented here.
Check out this awesome carving knife and fork set from the Gladiator series. Every roast, every brisket, every turkey, every ham will be perfectly and evenly sliced with this absolute powerhouse, maximizing seamlessness and ease of use with its ultra-sharp 9” blade and oval-shaped divots.
- This knife features a gorgeous, ergonomic, ambidextrous black G10 Garolite handle.
- The blade is made of precision forged, ultra-sharp, high carbon German ThyssenKrupp steel at 56+ Rockwell Hardness.
- Hand-sharpened to 16-18 degrees per side for the perfect balance between sharpness and strength.
- Precisely tempered for added durability.
- This slicer is 9” long, which is more than enough to tackle your slicing and carving needs; however, if you’re looking for something longer, take a look at the extra-long slicing & carving knife below.
- The knife does have a bit of flex to it, which aids in its overall durability.
Check out this extra-long, ruthlessly sharp slicing and carving tool from Dalstrong’s acclaimed Shogun series. Not only does this 14” slicer check all the boxes when it comes to your slicing needs, but it also looks stunning when doing so.
- As part of the Shogun series, this gorgeous knife features the Tsunami Rose blade pattern and overall looks amazing.
- The blade features an AUS-10V Japanese super steel core, and a 67-layered Damascus sharpened under the ancient 3-step Honbazuke method to a staggering 8-12 degree angle per side.
- Tapered bolster features a “zero-balance” feel as well as finger protection.
- Military grade G10 handle.
- This gorgeous extra-long slicer is definitely towards the upper end of the price range represented in this list, but it’s more than worth it with its looks and performance.
- Do you need a 14” slicer? The smaller knives in this list are a little easier to handle, but it all depends on what you need them for.
Best cleaver knives
Ah yes, the classic cleaver – one of the most important tools when it comes to prepping a piece of meat to throw on the grill. Any good BBQ knife set needs one, so here are our picks for the best cleaver knife.
This awesome 8” chef and cleaver knife hybrid from the Phantom series is a unique kitchen tool that combines the heft and design of a classic cleaver knife with the versatility of a chef knife. Not only that, but it’s also one of the most unique-looking knives you’ll find.
- Precision forged knife blade with premium Japanese AUS-8 steel, with high levels of chromium for stain resistance.
- Features a beautiful hand-polished satin finish with detailed engravings.
- Think of it as a chef knife with bonus features. Not only will you be able to do everything you can do with a chef knife, but you’ll also be able to hack through tough jobs.
- Premium quality imported Spanish pakkawood handle.
- Being a Japanese style cleaver/chef knife hybrid, it features a thinner blade than you’d find in most cleavers.
- If you already have a chef knife and you’re looking for a full-on cleaver knife, maybe check out the other options below.
This is one of the most formidable knives you’ll ever own. This 7” Chinese cleaver (also known as chukabocho in Japanese) will help you break down smaller cuts of meats and poultry, as well as slicing, dicing, mincing, and chopping all manner of tough vegetables.
- Features a hammered Tsuchime finish on the blade, as well as the gorgeous Dalstrong Tsunami Rose blade pattern.
- The handle is meticulously constructed of G-10 military-grade Garolite.
- Precision-forged blade with an ultra-premium Japanese AUS-10V “super steel” cutting core, at a staggering 62+ Rockwell hardness.
- Features 66 layers of high-carbon stainless steel cladding for extra strength, durability, and stain resistance.
- As most premium cleaver knives, this blade is a little heavy. Keep that in mind!
- This is a premium product, which is reflected in the price.
If you’re looking for a larger cleaver knife, this 9” cleaver from Dalstrong’s Phantom Series (nicknamed “the Banshee”) might just be what you’re looking for. Check out its awesome design and clear display of painstaking craftsmanship; an absolute powerhouse for portioning, chopping, and cubing a wide range of proteins as well as produce.
- Precision-forged blade with premium Japanese AUS-8, as well as high levels of chromium for stain resistance.
- The blade is also ice-tempered to ensure excellent resilience and edge retention. It’s hand-finished to a mirror polish within a staggering 13-15 degrees.
- Premium quality laminated Spanish pakkawood handle.
- Features a stainless steel hand-polished end cap for counterbalance and looks.
- This is an extremely comfortable knife to hold, but some people prefer the G10 Garolite handles over the Spanish pakkawood ones.
- 9” is pretty large for a cleaver; if you’re looking for something smaller, check out the other options above (or check out even more cleaver knife options here).
Best specialty BBQ tools
Now that we’ve covered the basics of the essential BBQ kitchen knife, let’s talk about some of the other tools that will make the life of a BBQ grillmaster easier (or, at the very least, much more fun). The very best BBQ knife set will contain some of these tools.
Sometimes it takes a special kind of tool to get the job done. This incredible, innovative knife is an utterly unique tool designed specifically for the dedicated BBQ pitmaster, with a unique tip design that can be used as a fork.
- As part of the Shadow Black series, this incredible knife features a black, non-reflective titanium nitride coating that not only adds corrosion resistance, it also looks cool as heck.
- Fiber-resin military-grade G10 handle, ergonomically designed for maximum comfort.
- Its unique tip shape can be used as a fork to work with the meat while you’re manning the grill.
- Precision forged, ultra sharp, wear-resistant single-piece high-carbon vacuum treated steel.
- The black titanium nitride coating may cause you to hesitate a little when it comes to sharpening, but it’s just a matter of getting used to it.
- Speaking of getting used to things, this unique blade design might take a bit of practice to get right; sometimes you’ll forget that you even have the fork tip!
This is a four-piece kit with every non-knife element any self-respecting grillmaster needs while they’re manning a BBQ. Includes tongs, a spatula, a fork, and a silicone basting brush.
- Provides you with a variety of tools for a variety of uses at a very affordable price.
- Each tool is crafted out of premium food-grade stainless steel and a G10 handle.
- BBQ tongs feature gentle teeth that will allow you to flip even the most delicate meats without piercing or tearing them.
- The basting brush is ideal for accurate basting and will allow you to get into hard-to-read places with its extra-long silicone bristles.
- It’s a great addition to any BBQ lover’s arsenal, but it does not include any knives or honing rods.
- While these tools are all extremely useful, they’re not absolute must-haves for many types of BBQ.
When it’s time to shred some meat, don’t do it the old-fashioned way with a couple of different forks. Instead, use these amazing meat shredding claws, perfect for tearing through the flesh of pork, beef, chicken, and more. Read all about these awesome meat shredding claws.
- The handle is made of ergonomic and slip-proof G10.
- Each claw has four razor-sharp prongs of premium SUS304 stainless steel.
- Pulled pork sandwiches never tasted better.
- Pretend to be Wolverine without embarrassing your significant other too much.
- You’ll still likely embarrass them a little.
5. Frequently Asked Questions
What knives are needed for BBQ?
If you’re working with many types of meat, the best BBQ knives you can have are the chef’s knife, the boning knife, paring knife, carving knife, and butcher’s knife. Sometimes steak knives are included.
These are important knives to carry in your knife roll before and after grilling, for portioning off the meat. And if you’re going to be working with large cuts, a cleaver knife is also a good option.
How do you use a BBQ knife?
The use of your BBQ knife is going to depend entirely on which type of knife you’re using at any given moment. Chef’s knives are more versatile and can be used for several tasks, while other knives – like paring knives, for instance – have a different technique because they’re specifically intended for small, precise cuts.
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Written by Jorge FarahBorn on the coast of Colombia and based in Buenos Aires, Jorge is a cooking enthusiast and kitchenware obsessive with a tremendous amount of opinions.